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Business, Human Resources, IIM, Marketing, Web

MBA Salary Survey 2010 from IIMJobs.Com

We recently received a submission from Mr Tarun Matta, founder of IIMJobs.com. They have conducted a survey from May 16th to May 31st 2010 with over 5600 MBA graduates sharing salary data anonymously. They offered for us to include this survey results on our site and we agreed to do so. So in case you are interested then please download the file here.

IIMJobs.com is an interesting site. It attempts to cater to MBA graduates seeking jobs, which is ofcourse a very big segment! I checked the site first time around an year ago and it was like a blogspot blog with job postings. Now ofcourse the site has changed a lot and has a good listing and page layout. If they are able to source good openings and provide good job referrals then definitely they can fill the segment of job openings website.

India definitely needs a good job website. Ofcourse naukri.com and other sites have come up but are they really able to fill the gap? Are they able to fulfill the needs of job searchers? Are they able to provide executive search capabilities or are they just listings of jobs? I feel they are probably not able to do it, but I might be wrong. Any comments please do share.

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Business, IIM, Marketing, Planning, Strategy

What exactly is a brand?

Every year a lot of people graduate from business schools and join marketing! Throughout business school a word taught in all marketing courses is ‘Brand‘. To be brutally honest one of the main reasons to go to a business school is The Brand! but lets try and have a better look at the origination of brands and its current use.

While discussing with friends we tried to analyze how the first brand came into being. Probably it all starts with one small shop which is excellent in whatever product it sells. Next the shop becomes really popular amongst its consumers, followed very quickly by other shops trying to copy the original shop, and the original shop naming itself and giving its product to distinguish itself from others. Well in some way or other most brands have come about this way, and I think Nike and Starbucks are such examples (not sure!!! though) So I guess that is the first major use of a brand “to distinguish the original from other copies” but this is mainly from the producers point of view.

From the consumers point of view what is the one of the most important viewpoint for a brand? It is ofcourse Reliability! When I go and buy Bata in India, what I am actually buying is reliability of the brand, when you buy Colgate you are again buying reliability, when you buy lee jeans then you buy reliability. Reliability of quality and consistency which is really important to a consumer like myself.

But there is presence of another factor of Brands, which is increasingly becoming the most important one, Exclusivity. Everyone wants to be unique and project themselves as influential and brands are being used to do so. Buying Tag Huer is not just for the quality of the watch but probably because the exclusive club it belongs to, driving a Lamborghini or Porsche is not just because of the quality of the car but because of the exclusivity, the esteem it brings.

So going ahead towards what is a brand is probably much bigger topic than what can cover one blog post! Here I am just trying to explain the difference between buying a brand because of its quality or its exclusivity. We are all slowly moving towards exclusivity, which can partially be also called a shallow world! Anyways just a thought!

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Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, IIM, Planning

3 Idiots – All is well! Really?

3-Idiots-2009 3 Idiots is an amazing movie! It hits the right chords in comedy, philosophy, romance and everything else that any bollywood movie can touch. Till now everyone whom I have asked has given only positive feedback about it. Amir Khan has given an amazing performance and the movie has done very well at the box office as well. The message of the movie is also very clear, follow your heart when picking your profession, and not necessarily the safe professions like Engineering / Medicine in India. A very good concept indeed.

After the movie I was discussing with some friends the whole concept shown in the movie, ‘Beti ko doctor and bete ko engineer banao’ (Make a girl Doctor and a boy an Engineer) has been the slogan for India since quite some time. We all laugh at it, mock it, and sometimes also complain about it, but do we ever try to recognize the reasons behind it? Lets try to remember the public issues movies were questioning during the 1990s. Wasn’t it being jobless in spite of being educated? Wasn’t finding a job being a graduate a very difficult task at one point of time (and probably stil is a bit difficult). This is the reason why probably our parents, and their parents started the mantra of ‘girl doctor, boy engineer’. To think of it this mantra has been working moderately in our generation with a lot of middle class boys / girls from my school being engineers / doctors and doing very well (this is not saying that others are not doing well!).

Another reason which can be quite obvious is that Indians are relatively risk averse people. We have one of the highest savings rate in the world, we have one of the most populated middle class in the world, we also have probably the highest poverty in the world! Thus the desire of parents to give their children a safe, secure working profession rather than dreaming something big and then not making it. Which brings us to the next big question, why is it bad to dream something big and then not making it (in India)? I have put in India in brackets because the movie and the article are concerning something specific to India. The reason why this is considered bad in India is because the basic living standard in India still has not come up yet. In other developed countries even if you do a smallish job (be a salesman / store operator / cab driver ) you can still afford a decent house, a nice car, visit the movie theater, give good gifts to your children, buy an iPod blah blah. In India if you are in one of these jobs then you can’t really do all these things! and this is where the fundamental problem comes in, that people are too afraid to dream and fail. Although movies like 3 Idiots will show that following your heart is the best way to go forward, I still reckon it is a bit too early to say that. What if Farhan in 3 Idiots goes for the photography internship and then finds out that photography was not his passion but just timepass (leisure!) and when he has to do it 24 hr then he hates it! What will he do then? Probably come back and try to get a job in India. What if it is an year like 2009 where recession is at its peak and he is unable to get a job. Now he has been out of job for 2 years and no work experience. What then?? It is this fear which prevails in the mind of Farhan’s father in the movie and in Raju’s mind as well. Yes being without fear is very important, but doing whatever you feel like doing still seems a bit overstretched. Would love to hear your feedback on this, so if you are reading this then please do leave a comment.

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Human Resources, IIM, Planning, Politics, Public Issues, Strategy

The need for more IITs and IIMs

Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) are a brand known all over the world in technology, and Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) have also made their mark in the world in terms of management. The premier institutes of India are known for selecting the best of the best, or the cream of the country as some people call it and make this cream even better. Well I really don’t think I need to write more about IITs and IIMs, as the identity is well established. But the question right now in front of us is the dilemma of Central Government opening 7 more IITs and 7 more IIMs. I will try and present some points around the topic and hope for a nice discussion in the comments.

The intake of more students! The number of students who get into IITs and IIMs is so few, it is actually minuscule. Lakhs of students aspire to get into these centers of excellence and a few thousands are able to get in. The system clearly needs expansion with the intake to be increased. But another question in this regard can be, what will the increased intake mean? The whole concept of cream comes when the selection ratio is very low, and the best amongst the candidates is selected. As the number of IITs and IIMs increases, doesn’t the quality decrease a bit? A highly debatable question!

The Brand: I think most of us we agree that the entire world today is a big marketing game. A resume is a way to market yourself isn’t it? So your education gives you a branding indeed! IITs and IIMs have always been together but separate as well. It has always been IIT Delhi or IIT Bombay and similarly in case of IIMs – IIM A, IIM B, IIM C! The pan-IIT and pan-IIM movements were just beginning to pickup. I really wonder what will the impact be with this sudden jump in the number of IITs and IIMs? After all when a student applies to a foreign university for Master’s after IIT won’t it matter whether the student is from IIT Delhi or from a recently started IIT?

Planning & Execution: One of the most important factors which has been forgotten is planning and execution. The government simply announces such programs (probably for political gains) and then leaves people hanging! Although 7 new IITs were started by Government on paper, and students were also given admission under these new IITs, the campuses are yet to be built! IIT Punjab classes were taking place in IIT Delhi till the last time I visited a few months ago. How can we expect a student to study in such conditions?

I remember when IIT Roorkee was given IIT status. IIT-R has always been a great institute and it just did not have the IIT status. By giving it IIT status there was no problem of infrastructure or loss to branding or any other such factors! Why cannot the Government move in such a direction? The government just announces plans for new IITs and IIMs without any real infrastructure / faculty / resources.

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Entertainment, IIM, Marketing, Sports, Strategy

Why did Ferrari go back to Michael Schumacher?


(We at Strat.in welcome our newest contributor, Arun KS. Arun is an alumnus of IIM-Calcutta, is a huge sports fan, specializing in EPL, UEFA and F1. His stay at IIM-C was marked by his attempts at Genocide during his stint as the Mess Representative of the Old Hostel, and winning several Marketing contests)

It is pretty stale news now that Michael Schumacher will be holding Felipe Massa’s seat in Ferrari until he is fit enough to race. So all those F1 fanatics and Schumacher supporters like me are ecstatic to see the maestro at work again and all those new F1 fanatics who have started following F1 in the past 2 years will get to see the maestro at work live.

Schumi

Schumi

After all the oohs and aahs the news has created there comes a question as to why did Ferrari go back to Schumacher and did not choose any other driver to replace Massa. I am trying to have my guess work at why Ferrari did that.

At the beginning of the season, the aim of Ferrari like most of the other teams was twofold.

1.    Win the Drivers Championship

2.    Win the Constructors Championship

In happier times

In happier times

After 10 races, their top driver, Massa is placed 7th, is injured and is not sure of racing again in the season. Their second driver Raikkonen is placed 9th and has no realistic chance of winning the drivers’ championship. Similarly, though they are placed 3rd in the Constructors championship, they are 74 points off the leaders and 58.5 points off the 2nd placed Red Bull.

The crew of the Enterprise accurately express the emotions at Ferrari

The crew of the Enterprise accurately express the emotions at Ferrari

So the only option they have now is to finish as high as possible in the constructors championship, which in turn burns down to holding on to their 3rd place. With the competitors like Toyota and McLaren breathing down their neck, it is a real tough task and for this they need both their drivers to

a.    finish

b.    finish as high as possible within the point scoring positions
For this they need their own machinery to be reliable and their drivers to be highly competitive and reliable. Their current drivers were competitive and reliable and thus they would have no complaints on that and no need to change the drivers next season. So keeping this in mind let us have a look at what the options were in front of the team to replace Massa

Desperate times - Desperate measures

Desperate times - Desperate measures

1. Marc Gene – The 35 year old test driver for Ferrari. He has had 36 starts in F1 though mostly with the 2 seasons he had with Minardi. His highest finish in F1 has been a 5th placed finish in the 2003 Italian Grand Prix when he replaced an injured Ralf Schumacher. He has scored a total of 5 points in his career and last driven an F1 car in the 2004 British Grand Prix. The most points he has scored in a season has been 4. This rules out Gene both on the count of a reliable point scoring driver and being highly competitive

2. Luca Badoer – Yet another test driver for Ferrari since 1997. He holds the dubious distinction of being the driver with most Grand Prix starts (48 starts) and not scoring a single point.  His highest ever finish has been 7th place in the San Marino Grand Prix (at that time they were giving points classification only for the first six drivers). His last race was 1999 Japanese Grand Prix. Though he has been a long time test driver, and probably the driver to have done the maximum number of miles in a Ferrari, he is ruled out because of the lack of reliability.

3. Robert Kubica – One of the many names linked to the empty seat in Ferrari. He is a rising star in the F1 circuit, though his current season is marred by an unreliable car. He has had 50 starts in F1 and has scored 122 points, winning the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix and finishing on the podium 8 times. He was leading the drivers’ championship at the half mark last year only to lose it off due to a reduced car performance. Thus he is a proven reliable driver who could get you the points and is highly competitive. He meets both the situation. But, he is under contract at BMW Sauber and being their top driver, the team would be reluctant to let him go to a rival in the middle of a season. Moreover, even Kubica might not like the idea of being a stop gap driver in the team, where he has to score points only to let the seat whenever Massa returns.

4. Fernando Alonso – The weirdest of the rumors was the one linking Alonso to the seat to replace Massa. Though there are rumors that he would be joining Ferrari in the next season, neither he nor Ferrari are ready to confirm the news. Moreover, being a 2 time world champion, why would he move into a team as a stop gap option?

5. Sebastian Bourdais – The 31 year old driver has had 27 starts and has scored 6 career championship points. He has been relieved of his contract with Torro Rosso at the end of German Grand Prix this year and he hasn’t proven his competitive spirit or the reliability to get the Ferrari seat, when it is so desperate to score points.

6.  Nico Hulkenberg – Yhis 22 year old reigning Formula Three Euro series champion is a rookie. The maximum level of F1 experience he has had was as a test driver at Williams. And the present situation is not a situation to put a rookie in.

A host of other drivers including David Coulthard were also linked to them. But either most of them are under contract with some team or the other, or they are not reliable or sometimes both. David Couldhard, although retired is still under contract with McLaren Mercedes. Moreover, he has not even driven a Ferrari on the race circuit till now.

So in the end it comes down to Michael Schumacher. A proven driver (the best race driver in history), reliable in scoring points (his 7 world championship titles are a testimony) and highly competitive (sometimes blamed for being over competitive too :P). He last raced in the 2006 season where he just missed the championship, and last drove the Ferrari car in April 2008 (he used to test drive the cars after retirement). He is known to be a keen fitness enthusiast who still keeps himself fighting fit, but of course he will have to undergo a battery of tests before he finally sits in the car because of his neck which he injured in an accident early this year. Though he hasn’t driven this year’s car and could not drive one till the practice session in European Grand Prix, he knows the Ferrari machine and the engine inside out after so many successful seasons with them. So, he can score those vital points needed by the team and can also easily leave the seat once Massa returns to go back to his role of consultant.

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IIM, Public Issues

A Holistic Approach towards Educational Reforms

The recent decision by the education ministry to do away with the Class 10 exams [Related article by Atul] to ‘reduce trauma’ amongst students is an interesting step in the currently fashionable trend of simplifying our education system. However, a piecemeal approach to this noble aim will achieve little, if any, positives, while at the same time, undermining the strength of an education system which has stood us in good stead over the last few decades – the academic rigour which sets Indians apart at the global level.

We have one of the most rigid and inflexible educational systems in the world. You select a career path, and god help you if, mid-way through, you realize that what you have chosen is not quite for you. And these career-defining decisions have to be taken at the incredibly mature age of fifteen, after you give your Class 10 exams. If you don’t take biology when you start off with class 11, darn, sorry, you can’t become a doctor now. If you think that sociology interests you, you aren’t fit to be an engineer. By the time you pass out of Class 12, your scope is pretty much limited. It’s no wonder that half of us want to get into an engineering college post Class 12 despite having no inclinations towards studying it.

As traumatic as the Class 10 experience can be, I believe that it is necessary if we are to stay with the current system of higher education in India. What Class 10 teaches you is that there is one way in this system. You can either stop complaining about it and get down to business or get out and basically have a wee bit of a larger problem on your hands. This bit of reality, although unpleasant, is necessary, for it is inevitable that a large section of us are going to end up doing stuff which drives us up the wall or just does not drive us at all for the rest of our lives. Unless we liberalize the rest of our education system, and adopt a system which lets us move across specializations as we mature and grow as individuals, we ought to have this. Delaying this is delaying the inevitable. Class 10 and 12 exams are a sort of a baptism by fire in our educational system, after the mindlessness of these two things, you can take pretty much whatever the system can throw at you.

What we do need is a complete overhauling of the education system, from Class 10 to the post-graduate level. We need to rethink our obsession with specializations and our focus on extremely narrow and pre-specified career paths. One of the committees on higher education recently came out with a report (unfortunately, I cannot recall what this one was, exactly), but the gist of it was that we need to rethink our system of IITs and IIMs with extreme focus on a very narrow field. The IITs have already taken a step in that direction by introducing courses in Medicine. We need world class universities which allow students to select courses from a wide variety of disciplines without sacrificing their career interests. A business graduate or an engineer who has studied sociology or psychology is quite likely to be better off than one who hasn’t, something which our current system fails to understand.

As India grows and turns into a developed economy, we need to ensure that our education system follows suit. Unfortunately, while are cities turn increasingly westernized and modern – and I mean in terms of way of thinking – our towns and villages continue to exist in the way they have been over the last few decades. What we probably need is a dual system of education, one which identifies the needs of both of these increasingly disparate groups to create a system which can best serves our interests as a nation. Trying to tinker with the current system without taking a holistic perspective is dangerous and will only serve towards creating a hopscotch mix which achieves little.

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Business, IIM, Planning, Politics, Public Issues, Strategy

Divide & Rule – A strategy lesson

The history books of India will always remember this phrase, the British policy of ‘divide & rule’ led to their colonization of India and ruling it for over 200 years. So everyone who has got his education in India should actually remember this strategy and understand its importance. In simple words the ‘Divide & Rule’ strategy means breaking up a combined entity into smaller units so that it is easier to conquer them. For a more concrete definition you can visit this article on Wikipedia.

indiapakistankargilHistorically in India the divide & rule strategy worked like a wonder for the British. They were able to divide the princely estates and were able to easily conquer each of them seperately. It is believed that the creation of states in India by the British was not because of ease of management but rather to divide the people accordingly. The division of India and Pakistan is still considered by many as a final divide and rule policy (in terms of world politics).

World Politics: It is said that one should always learn from the mistakes of others because one does not live long enough. Well countries in this world do not have this problem still it seems ironic to me how India and its neighbors still do not understand from their own mistakes. If we look at the world then it is moving away from being divided. The European Union un-divided themselves by uniting all their countries, their currencies, their economies. USA in itself stands for United States of America. Moreover all the countries in the world always move for better co-operation and peace. Yet in the Indian Sub-continent we are fighting since the past 50 years over Kashmir and Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh) and will probably continue doing that. We have not learnt from our own mistakes of getting divided and getting ruled by others!

Indian Politics: Credit must be given to Indian politicians in this regard that though they might not have passed class 10th examination in India but the way they understand ‘divide & rule’ probably scholars in India don’t. The division of Indian society by classes, caste reservations, caste based parties, religion and other innumerable artificial divisions, keeps the people haggling over petty issues ignoring the main ones, and thus keeps these corrupt politicians in power. One of the most perfect examples of divide & rule according to me.

Companies & Monopoly: I believe the only place where someone has learn from divide & rule and its after effects is the capitalist companies. Companies understand that if they divide amongst themselves, play price wars and bring the tariffs down then ultimately they lose. Thus in most industries the competitors agree to minimum pricing and do not tend to cut costs below those levels, e.g. Coke and Pepsi, most cellular operators, multiplexes to name a few. By staying united (atleast on pricing) they are able to form a sort of monopoly and avoid being ruled by the consumer!

Application in science: The strategy is so practical that even science has accepted it and developed an algorithm on it called “Divide & Conquer” (don’t know why they could not just use divide & rule). The algorithm works on dividing a bigger problem into smaller problems till the smaller problem becomes really easy to solve! I remember using the algorithm in many courses at IIT Delhi. More details about the algorithm can be found on the Wikipedia article.

The IIMs: Last but not the least I think even IIMs have not completely learn this strategy. IIMs the best business schools of India have united in the admission process and thus able to make it a strong one, but by fighting with each other over Indian B-School rankings, placements and many other issues remove the unity of the institutes. The result being that even the IIMs as b-schools are divided and are not able to make the impact that they can make by being together.

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IIM, Public Issues, Strategy

Compare People – Why? Part 2

In my last post on Compare people – Why?, I discussed the beneficial aspects of comparing people. Readers gave some interesting insights as well in the comments, one of which I quote during the post. In this post I try to discuss the flip side of comparison among people.

Comparison has always been a debated subject. Right from the times of the Mahabharata, comparison and the resulting jealousy has been the bane of human history. The seeds of the war at Kurukshetra during Mahabharata were sown during the childhood days of Kauravas and Pandavas in the minds of Duryodhana. (For more, read here) A number of times, the fruits of our action are relative, example, by achieving my revenue targets, I shall get a bigger raise than the rest of my colleagues. Perhaps the greatest verse ever told to mankind, asks one to not let the fruits of your actions be the motive behind the same.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

Translation: To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.

Next issue here is the objects of comparison. Comparing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal perhaps is justified, but imagine comparing an upcoming young tennis player, say Prakash Amritraj, with Roger Federer. Not only would the comparison be unjust and unfair, it would put an unbelievable amount of pressure on Prakash. Sadly, in real life, you see exactly this happening a lot of times. Inter-sibling comparison, inter-family comparison, comparison between friends, comparison among people you know, all this has become too common. While comparing, the focus is extremely unilateral – just one aspect of personalities is compared. That one brother is a good-for-nothing chap is decided solely on the basis that the other brother got through an Ivy league college in USA and the other couldn’t. Now, is that fair? Not only will this lead to a tremendous loss of confidence for the child at that age, it would lead to a huge inner urge to get back at his family for making him the constant subject of humiliation.

To quote an earlier comment made by Somyvan on the verse quoted by me in this post:

Comparison is a question of determining the magnitude of variance and its direction. We feel a certain direction is more desirable. That leads to the action of striving in that direction.If people break down because this one-up-man-ship is not achieved, it is sad.

Its not only sad, but also a huge loss of resource. Possibly these people who break down might have become champions at something else, if their aptitudes were tapped in the right manner. However, in India and perhaps all over the world as well, there is a huge crowd mentality. Just because one trader became a millionaire, millions of people put all their life savings into the stock market and lose it all. The dark side of comparison is that it has and it will continue to destroy millions of homes. It will take away the peace of mind from someone wishing to do anything constructive. While some people may take comparison as a motivating factor, for most, tackling it may become too overwhelming.

Next, comparison is a major source of unethical behaviour. Cycling as a competitive sport is on the verge of collapse today and the major reason is comparison.  The list of doping incidents in Cycling is long and this article on wikipedia is evidence of the same. Floyd Landis – the declared winner at 2006 Tour De France -was disqualified after a drug control test. Why cycling, look at perhaps the greatest sport in human history – Running. Marion Jones, an athlete who supposedly took women’s track and field to another level at the Sydney Olympics, was jailed in 2008 for 6 months and was stripped of all her Golds since she took performance enhancing drugs. Why do such great athletes who take up cycling surrender to the lure of doping? Its perhaps due to this fear of failure and need to succeed at any cost.Some great mind has heroically given us a motivational quote ‘You never win the silver, you lose the Gold’ . However, the consequences of such an attitude are disastrous. It pushes even the brightest of the bright over the limit in terms of ethics. While the proverb is great for motivation, if not accompanied with examples of ethical behavior, it can ruin the life of an upcoming player.

Finally, what is really achieved out of this constant and never-ending comparison? Perhaps we establish the greatness of someone – ‘XYZ is the best because he beat all his peers for a certain number of times at something’. But does that mean that those peers who lost then were any lesser than the victors? To give an example of this in the modern context – we have 4000 out of 300,000 students entering IITs every year. These are supposed to be the best in the country, as they beat lakhs of their contemporaries at an exam. But does that mean that all of the peers who they beat were inferior? Certainly not! Failure to enter IITs has a psychological effect on many bright ones. Who knows how many great scientists India has lost and will lose in future because these students couldn’t enter the IITs since their families couldn’t afford sending these kids to famous (and expensive) IIT professors!

So, how can one beat this deadly comparison game? I believe the only way to beat this comparison is look for self betterment. What should be done is one should look at self betterment as a source of motivation for oneself. One has to consider his past performance and strive for improvement – constant and multifaceted as the only parameter for success. Apart from this, we should inculcate a positive attitude in life – the occasional setback may come. There will be days when the unthinkable will happen . One has to learn to take these things in their stride and move on, perhaps even try harder. To conclude, its about setting the bar higher for yourself and then, overcoming it ethically. In the words of Albert Einstein

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

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Business, IIM, Public Issues

Perceptions: the world as we see it?

A course assignment turned into this after reading Descartes’ The First Meditation!

When I read Rene Descartes’ On doubt & certainty, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was: to the mad man is the sane man mad? Are we merely victims of perception so to speak?

We learn what we perceive, we learn from the inputs that our senses tell us are correct. Every single abstract thought in the human mind has its basis in datum, no matter how distantly connected. A good example of how we dependent we are on our sense to “tell us the truth” would be the movie The Matrix. The film describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while thePluto's conception of a caveir bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source (in conjunction with nuclear fusion). The movie supposedly relates to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (see pic), a fable which he used to illustrate “our nature in its education and want of education”.

“If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain” is what Morpheus tells Neo in the movie.

Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.

Similarly, Descartes talks about the “demon” in The First Meditation. The evil demon presents a complete illusion of an external world, including other people, to Descartes’ senses, where in fact there is no such external world in existence. The evil genius also presents to Descartes’ senses a complete illusion of his own body, including all bodily sensations, where in fact Descartes has no body.

The Geeta in Hinduism talks of a similar concept in term of Maya (illusion). When Krishna was questioned by Arjuna about the creation, only answer Krishna gave is “Through my Maya, I create this creation in the beginning of time and at the end of time, this creation merges with in me.”

Are perceptions, the fundamental basis of learning, unstable and unreal?

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